Beverly Hills: Grade-separated bike lanes for Santa Monica Blvd?
What is a bike lane supposed to look like?
Los Angeles mostly seems to think they should be to the left of parked cars and to the right of moving cars, with nothing but a bit of paint to separate them. This paradigm hardly makes riders feel safe, and really limits the kinds of cyclists who take to the streets. Other cities, many of them overseas, but more recently in Portland, New York, and a few others, have taken a different tack. They’ve separated cycling lanes from travel lanes. Sometimes they use a curb or sidewalk, sometimes they use parked cars, and sometimes they build a different path altogether. Here in L.A., though, we just haven’t done that, aside from the few “Class I” paths you’ll find scattered at the beach and rivers.
As it happens, Santa Monica Boulevard in Beverly Hills is up for a twelve-million dollar makeover. The city has expressed some interest in adding bicycle lanes on at least one side of the boulevard, probably the south side, with “all options open” for a second lane on the north side, or Carmelita Avenue, the next street up. Given the examples of the many non-
grade-separated protected bike lanes in this city, it was with some surprise that I heard this bit from Beverly Hills council member Nancy Krasne at a study session last week (around 33:30):
If you really, really want a bike lane on Santa Monica Boulevard, I suggest where the bike lane is, that we find a way to either raise it up at a higher level than the road, so that the bike lane is higher than the street — and it’s marked “Bike Lane” — and that somebody that starts to drift into it is going to be touching something … and the bikes are a little safer.
I was so delighted to hear this idea of a
grade-separated protected bike lane that I fired off a letter to Krasne today. Who knew that Beverly Hills, the “black hole” of bicycle infrastructure in our city, might have a real advocate for first-class lanes?!